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“5*Spa 3* room”

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Balneo Complex Saint Spas
Ranked #20 of 26 Hotels in Velingrad
Reviewed January 24, 2014

Great Spa experience - good size pool for swimming,quality mineral water in the pool ( felt difference on my skin and hair within two days), great water temperature - suitable for soaking and swimming. For swimmers it is best to stay at this hotel when there are not too many people there as otherwise there are too many people soaking and playing which makes swimming impossible. I visited low season, in winter and it was just right for swimming. Families with kids seem to enjoy the place a lot. The air temperature throughout the hotel , wellness center and the spa center is perfect and makes it a really relaxing and enjoyable experience. It is comfortably warm and homely. The underground Spa center is very beautifully made and it looks like a 5 star experience. However the rooms are the equivalent of Western standard 3* with a few extras - like a cotton bathrobe( which was very useful) and a hairdryer. The carpet was worn out, not very clean, the walls were scuffed, the hot water kettle not working, there were no teabags, cups, no instant coffee sachets , no sugar and milk, no iron, - which is standard in other countries in 5 star hotels. Expectation is the mother of frustration and we were greatly disappointed with the room standard , we thought we were treating ourselves to a luxury hotel and it was the equivalent of a Western 3*. For a 3* room it was OK. Another negative experience was the coffee machine at breakfast. If i were the manager of this hotel I would immediately dispose of this machine. It produces a cheap, ghastly liquid, we tried all options - coffee, coffee with milk, cappuccino - but the result was awful , insulting to the taste buds. Not acceptable on any level. Eventually we realized that we could order coffee from the waiter and this was a real coffee, we had to pay for it ( 2 lev, 1 euro per cup). The breakfast had some good quality meats , salami, pork fillet, Bulgarian bacon, so it would be suitable for those who want to loose weight or stick to the Atkins diet. Eggs - boiled, scrambled,poached. Cucumber, tomato. The Wellness Center - the pools, sauna, steam room, relaxation room were supposed to open at 8 am , however at 8.30 they were still being cleaned and the sauna was not switched on, which meant that one could not have a morning swim/ sauna and then enjoy breakfast. Breakfast time was till 10 a.m. One has to chose between a morning swim/sauna or breakfast. When it comes to service - the top service we received was from staff at the Reception of Spa center. They know how to talk to people, how to be efficient, and how to smile and make it a pleasant experience. We would recommend that the rest of the staff get the same training of how to relate to hotel clients. They were often polite, but not always efficient and at times very serious ( it looked unfriendly). It is OK to smile when you serve someone's coffee. Had we been told that we were going to stay at a 3* hotel we would have written a great review for this hotel, it is this discrepancy between what is advertised and what is offered that set our expectations and we were disappointed on one hand but on the other it turned out to be overall a positive experience due to the great Wellness Center. We are not sure if we would return as it was too stressful. We travel a lot abroad, for Bulgarian people who have not experienced anything different this hotel is OK.

Room Tip: We asked for a South facing room, facing the hill. (away from the road).
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  • Stayed: January 2014, traveled as a couple
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Thank Deia600
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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36 - 42 of 63 reviews

Reviewed January 22, 2014

SUMMARY: This hotel promotes itself as a 5-star luxury hotel. By Bulgarian standards it may be (though in Bulgaria 5 stars are awarded mainly on the basis of physical facilities, e.g. number of light bulbs in the bathroom) but by western standards it would only qualify as a 3- or maybe 4-star business hotel. However, the mineral water swimming pool and the spa facility are good and tip the balance to 4 stars rather than three.

PRO: The hotel is large, clean and warm (we visited in January). General facilities are average for a hotel of this size -- free WiFi throughout, a sizeable conference room (though only one, and no smaller meeting rooms), a lobby bar, kettle+cups in the bedrooms (a rarity in Bulgaria) and free use of the pleasant swimming pool and sauna/steam room. There is also a "Spa", predicated on the hotel's own supply of hot mineral water, which advertises "Balenotherapy" (i.e. water-based) treatments (as does practically everyone in Velingrad, a town with 96 hot mineral-water springs), and the Spa staff were polite, friendly and helpful (that is, pretty well up to Western or even American standards of customer service).

CON: The main part of our bedroom measured 3.5m x 4.5m, which is distinctly average even by 3-star hotel standards, and definitely small for a hotel billing itself as 5-star. There was a small mini-bar and (pleasant surprise) a kettle and cups, but you would expect to have these even in a 3-star hotel. Items you might have expected in a top-rated hotel were missing, such as a desk and chair suitable for working at; a trouser press and/or ironing facility; a small microwave oven; and maybe an ice-making facility (for use in the summer months, at least). Of course, with rooms as small as they are there isn't space for all those things.

However, style and attention to detail are what make a hotel 5-star -- providing little extras, looking out for the small things, noticing problems and putting them right quickly. Unfortunately, St Spas fails in this respect. There were many examples:
- the plaster was cracked and about to fall away in one corner of the room
- the gaps between the tiles on the bathroom floor were dirty
- one of the bedside tables appeared coffee-stained (which turned out to be spilled paint or varnish, but looked bad)
- some parts of the walls were scuffed
- the beds were uncomfortable
- there was no mattress cover on the bed -- a single sheet was laid directly on the mattress
- the kettle didn't work
- neither did the shaver socket in the bathroom
- the coffee and sugar were not replaced when the room was cleaned, so we had cups and saucers but nothing to drink from them
- there was some kind of immovable residue (glue, or caulk) on the counter-top in the bathroom
- there was a constant 50Hz buzz from the electrical fuse box inside the entrance to the room
- throughout the hotel, random light bulbs were out and not replaced
- the breakfast facilities were very disappointing -- no fresh fruit juice (just some undrinkable, sugary, coloured water); undrinkable machine-dispensed coffee; tepid "hot" milk; inedible banitsa (a Bulgarian national pastry); butter and jam in catering pats
- on ordering proper coffee at breakfast (at extra cost), the coffee was accompanied by white sugar in pre-packs and a straw of powdered "creamer" (a genuine 5-star hotel would provide demerara sugar, loose or lump, and a small jug of real cream)
- the dining room opened for breakfast at 8 am, and the pool was supposed to open at the same time, but by 8:45 it was still not operational, meaning that those who enjoy a swim before breakfast had their plans badly disrupted
- in the steam room, the floor did not drain properly, meaning one sat with one's feet in a small lake
- the pool surround presented a highly dangerous slip hazard in a heavy-traffic area (the tiles are smooth and permanently wet, which is a potentially lethal combination)
- the movement detectors in some of the corridors have not been adjusted very well, meaning you sometimes walk into darkness for a few paces before the lights come on, which is very disconcerting
- the operation of the elevators is not coordinated, so (until you realise you have to call each one separately) you can stand waiting for one elevator while the other one is already on your floor
- the gardens were not landscaped, but just expanses of rough, lumpy grass
None of these things is a big problem in itself, but it indicates that the hotel staff and management either don't pay attention to the state of the facilities or don't think it matters. This is not the mark of a 5-star hotel. (I note with surprise the reply of the hotel's sales manager to another commenter, along the lines that the hotel doesn't do things that aren't required by law, e.g. providing mattress covers -- no hotel would ever get 5 stars if it took that attitude. The whole point of being a 5-star hotel is that you absolutely DO do things that aren't the bare minimum. If you don't understand that, you shouldn't be in the hotel business.)

The other characteristic of a 5-star hotel is the attitude and behaviour of the staff. Unfortunately, with the exception of those in the Spa, the staff at St Spas can't be said to come up to 5-star standards. The best way to put it is that in the Spa you feel you are there to be looked after, but in the rest of the hotel you feel you are there to be dealt with. A smile costs nothing, but they were in short supply among the staff; and one's day is not enhanced by being told off crossly for failing to follow the correct check-in/check-out procedure for poolside towels. This is not to say the staff didn't do their jobs efficiently, but it was not a particular pleasure to interact with them. Again, this is not the mark of a 5-star hotel.

Would we come back to St Spas again? Yes, but certainly not at their normal rates. This is not a 5-star hotel, but somewhere between 3½ and 4.

Room Tip: Ask for a south-facing room
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  • Stayed: January 2014, traveled with family
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5  Thank Rolf_Mack
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 28, 2013

I have spent 3 different vacations in this hotel and finally I feel obliged to write some nice words about the pleasant and relaxing atmosphere there. I should first say I bought special vouchers for discount prices from an Internet site, and second – these were absolutely excellent prices for the offered services.

The rooms:
The double rooms are spacy and nice. But for families with two children I recommend apartment. The apartments are actually as twice as big as the double rooms and consist of a living room and a bedroom. The unfolding sofa in the living room turned out to be really comfortable for sleep. The pillows, as stated in other opinions, were too soft for my own taste. This seemed to be the only negative thing I noticed, which can be easily corrected.

The wellness center:
My family and I spent almost all of our time there. The pools are wonderful and the temperature of the water predisposes to full relax. The children’s pool has two levels of deepness and evolves into jacuzzi in one of its ends. From there you can sit and monitor your children which are practically some 5-6 seconds from your reach. The big pool is OK too, but the keen swimmers could be disappointed - the temperature in it is more suitable for relax than for swimming. The wellness center offers sauna and steam bath too. It is really a marvelous experience to alternate sauna-pool-sauna-pool-steam bath and etc. I loved this type of relaxation!

The SPA:
Nice spa center, the chill-out atmosphere created there fully corresponds to the quality of the massages.

The restaurant:
And here comes the best part. The restaurant is big, the variety of the offered food is enough and these chefs definitely know what they do. Totally professional! Wonderful cuisine for my taste! My advice to the management of the hotel - do not lose the kitchen personnel, they do a fantastic job there!

Definitely my stay (all three of them) was great value for the money. There could be some minor remarks but the overall impression is for a professional attitude and somehow balanced service offered. I am looking forward for my next vacation there!

  • Stayed: November 2013, traveled with family
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Thank Relentless S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Boyan A, Director of Sales at Balneo Complex Saint Spas, responded to this reviewResponded December 2, 2013

Dear Relentless S,

Thank you indeed for your detailed review!

I am absolutely delighted to find out that our guests come again and again and are so satisfied by our services.
We do have harder pillows, but since they are a matter of taste and hence - on request, I will make sure for your next stay that you have them in advance.

Sincerely,
Boyan

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Reviewed November 4, 2013

That's the first 5 star hotel I've stayed in. So I do not have the 5 star background. And I am not a very demanding customer and probably lack the expectations that someone more experienced would have.
We liked the room, the staff, breakfast and the spa amenities. The pool and jacuzzi with mineral water were outstanding. We spent a good amount of time there, hopping from the pool to the sauna and back. We also had an extra spa procedure included in the stay, which were really nice and relaxing. I don't know what's the reason for that, but to me how a hotel smells is really important and this one smelled so soothing and welcoming that I could smell that all day long :). There were no more than 20 people staying at the hotel and the pool and all amenities were not crowded at all, which is something I really like. We stayed there during the week - on weekends things may change though.
The hotel is located at the outskirts of the city in a quiet place next to the river, so there was no noisy bars and streets nearby. The downside to that is that you have to walk a kilometer or two if you want to go to the city center (or do so by car). It was not a problem to me and we went downtown by car if we had to.

Room Tip: Ask for a south facing room. It faces the small park and the river. Other rooms may face the road an...
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  • Stayed: October 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank Monk M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Boyan A, Director of Sales at Balneo Complex Saint Spas, responded to this reviewResponded November 25, 2013

Dear Monk M,

Thank you for reviewing our hotel here!

I am glad you enjoyed your stay in the quiet setting of Saint Spas.

Sincerely, Boyan

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Reviewed October 24, 2013

This is nothing more than a POOR 4 star hotel. Do not go there if you expect anything more than that.
When we arrived there was no bell boy to meet us. We had to ask for someone to help us with the luggage and we had to wait. The receptionist did not even lift his head when we approached the reception desk, even though the hotel was obviously empty at this time. We were not greeted by him and we were left standing more than 20 seconds, before finally my husband enquired that we are checking in.
The standard double room is smaller than it looks like on the website. Its furniture is VERY BASIC. There is no coffee machine. There is instant coffee and tea, but no creamer or milk portions. We were told that coffee and tea is not being replenished during the stay!!!No complimentary bottled water. No choice of pillows, there are only 3 very soft pillows in the room. When I asked for a hard pillow I was told by the housekeeper that they only have 10 hard pillows per floor and they are all in the other rooms so there are none for our room left! No mattress cover or top mattress, the sheets are spread directly on the mattress. I asked for a mattress cover and they did not even know what that is. I have not seen this even in cheaper hotels. On the small balcony no chair to sit. There are dangerous electrical plugs in the room, there are walls with cracks, just to mention a few...
The cleanliness is not up to the standards, as well. There was no turn down service???
Great disappointment is the fact that there is NO WI-FI in the rooms. When we asked about it we were told there is only cable internet in the rooms and wi-fi in the lobby only.
The pool itself is clean, but the first day the water was 34 degrees and we found this too hot. The pool area is not maintained well, pool chairs are dirty and not well organised. The pool attendant was lying on one pool chair.
SPA is nicely designed, but again masseurs sitting on the coaches doing nothing: does not look so good...
Only thing we liked was the restaurant. It is nice and cozy, buffet arrangement was ok, and waiters were friendly. Food for dinner was surprisingly good, breakfast was basic, but fine.
We are checking out of this hotel tomorrow and we would definitely not come back to St. Spas.

  • Stayed: October 2013, traveled with family
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5  Thank doinsl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Boyan A, Director of Sales at Balneo Complex Saint Spas, responded to this reviewResponded November 25, 2013

Dear doinsl,

Thank you for reviewing our hotel!

I am glad to see a profound opinion in various aspects of the hotel service.
I believe you will agree that the complimentary services are the hotel's choice and matter of price for the service paid. Even more the price is a function of the extra services we are able to offer, such as choice of pillows and extra mattress cover (the latter not even being popular or obligatory product in Bulgaria yet), turn-down service, etc. The present economical situation in Bulgaria limits our ability to sell at high prices as we try to follow the buying abilities of the market.
As the hotel has a medical centre, we originally did not want to offer WiFi in the rooms. We wanted to avoid any extra emitters and we provide FREE WiFi only in the general areas. However, as more and more of our guests ask for this, I am happy to inform you in advance, that FREE WiFi service is coming to the hotel rooms with term before the end of 2013.
Thank you again for your remarks which we will certainly consider to improve our work and the service of our staff.

Sincerely,
Boyan

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Reviewed September 26, 2013 via mobile

We bought a voucher through a Bulgarian version of Groupon (Rio.bg). Two nights bed breakfast and dinner plus use of spa 250lev for 2 nights the equivalent of £115(approx). On the whole the hotel is very nice reception/lobby bar are stunning. The pool area is very nice only criticism of this area is. For a 5* hotel there is no visible drinking water (I suspect so you buy water etc from the counter). Also there are tea and coffee making facilities in the bedroom but no milk portions or whitener. Apart from that the hotel is very nice staff are friendly and if you have dinner try the figs in champagne & congac with yoghurt for they are to die for!

  • Stayed: September 2013
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Thank Funkeyjaybee
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Boyan A, Director of Sales at Balneo Complex Saint Spas, responded to this reviewResponded November 24, 2013

Dear Funkeyjaybee,

Thank you for your time to review our hotel!

We offer mineral water on our buffet table without surcharge. You can order inroom delivery for anything that you need in your room through our 24-h room-service. We will consider your opinion for further improvement of our services. I am glad you liked our cuisine!

Sincerely, Boyan

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Reviewed August 7, 2013

I took a trip to Velingrad with my family and friends. Great value for money with two great pools and great welcoming staff. The massages were amazing with fantastic passion fruit oils and all the fruit was fresh. Great for all people whatever age!

Room Tip: they all have balconies and even the cheapest rooms were clean and spacious
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  • Stayed: July 2013, traveled with friends
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Thank Ruth Q
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Boyan A, Director of Sales at Balneo Complex Saint Spas, responded to this reviewResponded September 11, 2013

Dear Ruth Q,

Thank you for your review for our hotel! I am delighted to see that you enjoyed your stay and liked the place and our SPA centre.

Sincerely,
Boyan Alexandrov
Director of Sales and Marketing

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Additional Information about Balneo Complex Saint Spas

Address: Nikola Vaptsarov Str. 97, Velingrad 4600, Bulgaria
Location: Bulgaria > Pazardzhik Province > Velingrad
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #20 of 26 Hotels in Velingrad
Price Range: $80 - $595 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — Balneo Complex Saint Spas 5*
Number of rooms: 146
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Balneo Hotel Saint Spas is the biggest 5 star hotel, located in Velingrad, Bulgaria, fully supplied with mineral water. Named by the area where it's situated, in the unique Chapinska river valley, among pine-tree hills, wide velvet meadows, crystal blue sky and south Rhodopean sun…the Orpheus mountain. The place itself was blessed with a special gift to heal, known even before the ancient times with its Roman and Turkish baths. Here is located the biggest mineral spring in the town - the Radonova bath, as well as one of the wonders of the Bulgarian nature – the Kleptuza Karst spring – the biggest at the Balkans. The hotel part of the complex has 79 standard rooms, 4 VIP studios and 63 luxurious apartments – attractive as design and color, with heavenly views towards the awesome Rhodope Mountains. The hotel is one of the three in the area certified as medical tourism place, nominated as the best on the Balkans. Balneo Hotel Saint Spas 5* - Where time stops surrounded by nature! ... more   less 
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